Category Archives: Newsletters

Defining Behavioral Segments

The following is from the April 2011 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

Q: I purchased your book and have a few questions you can hopefully help me out with.

A: Thanks for that, and sure!

Q: We have 4 product lines and 2 of them are seasonal. i.e we have customers that year in year out purchase these items consistently but seasonally, for example, every spring and summer.  Then they are dormant for Fall and Winter.  Should I include these customers along with everyone else when doing an RFM segmentation?

A: Well, it kind of depends what you will using the RF(M) model for, what kinds of marketing programs will be activated by using the scores. If you know you have seasonal customers and their habit is to buy each year, AND you wish to aim retention or reactivation programs at them, I would be tempted to divide the customer base so that seasonal customers are their own segment.  Then run two RF(M)  models – one for the seasonals, and one for everyone else.

Q: If I include seasonal customers, and I run RFM say on a monthly basis, these seasonal customers will climb / fall drastically with time depending on the season, so it seems like it may complicate the scoring process.

A: Sure, and you could segment as I said above.  Or, you could run across a longer time frame, say across 2 – 3 years worth of data. This would “normalize” the two segments into one and take account of the seasonality in the scoring – perhaps be more representative of the business model.  However, the scores would become less sensitive due to the long time frame so the actions of customers less accurately predicted by the model.

Q: Can you provide me with some examples as to how segmentation is carried out?  Let’s say I being with RFM and all my customers are rated 5-5, 5-4, 4-5 etc.  What are the next steps, do we overlay with other characteristics like age, gender, etc?  Or are the 5-3 etc. our actual segments?

A: This goes back to what you want to use the RF(M) model for.  In the standard usage, each score will have roughly the same number of customers in it, those with higher scores will be more likely to respond to marketing and purchase, lower scores less likely.

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Increase Profit Using Customer State

The following is from the March 2011 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

Q: We’ve been playing around with Recency / Frequency scoring in our customer email campaigns as described in your book.  To start, we’re targeting best customers who have stopped interacting with us.  I have just completed a piece of analysis that shows after one of these targeted emails:

1. Purchasers increased 22.9%
2. Transactions increased 69%
3. Revenue increased 71%

A: There you go!

Q: My concern is that what I am seeing is merely a seasonal effect – our revenue peaks in July and August.  So what I should have done is use a control group as you described in the book – which is what I am doing for the October Email.

A: Yep, that’s exactly what control groups are for – to strain out the noise of seasonality, other promotions, etc.  But don’t beat yourself up over it, nothing wrong with poking around and trying to figure out where the levers are first.

Q: Two questions:

1.  What statistical test do I use to demonstrate that the observed changes are not down to chance

2.  How big should my control group be – typically our cohort is 500-800 individuals

A: Good questions…

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Optimizing for Customer Value

The following is from the February 2011 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

Q: Thank you for creating this useful website!

A: You’re welcome!

Q: When figuring out retention rate for an annual or a 8 months life time cycle period, how do I pick the starting period?  Do I look at their first orders on a date?  Or I pick a time frame such as one month?

A: It depends on:

1. What kind of “retention” you are talking about, the definition, which is probably impacted by the audience for the data

2.  What you will do with the retention data, what kind of decisions will be made and actions be taken because of the data

You should always ask these questions above  when someone requests “retention data” – or any other kind of analysis, for that matter!  For example, there probably is a huge difference in what you would provide to the Board of Directors for an annual benchmark and what you would provide to Marketing people for executing campaigns.

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When Does a Visitor Need a Coupon?

The following is from the November 2010 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

Q: First off, I very much appreciate you sharing all this wonderful content on your blog and conferences such as eMetrics.

A: Thanks for that!

Q: My question is a simple one, but I think the answer may be hard: When does a visitor “need” a coupon?  *Need* defined as: visitor would not have placed an order unless presented with the coupon.

A: Hmmm…methinks we’re going to have to define a few concepts and be clear on the goals to make sure we are nailing this down… visitor versus customer, sales versus profit, etc.  In other words, answer is not hard, but could be complex without defining context.

Q: It’s still a mystery to me why so many retailers seem more than willing to hand over all their margins to Groupon or give coupons to basically all visitors.  I am curious whether you would approach this question using  observational data (eg web analytics) or experiments (eg AB testing), or both.

A: Right – is a mystery to me too!

There are certain situations where this approach might be appropriate, but the problem with much web “marketing” (which often is really just advertising without much thought about marketing) is often there is success in a narrow or special situation.  Then the pundits jump on and say “if you’re not doing this you are stupid”, regardless of the business situation and / or without recognizing the special circumstances that are driving success.  This is all the real Marketing stuff people leave out; understanding why it works, under what circumstances, for which segments, involving which products.

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Freemium Customer Conversion

The following is from the October 2010 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

Q: I was wondering if you’ve done any work with, or given thought to, companies who have a cloud based Freemium business model?

Should they be tracking usage (or anything) at the free level?  Should they be tracking usage at the paid level?  I’m sure defection rates are a big problem, but I’m wondering how many focus on engagement thru mass marketing versus trying to keep what they’ve got, or influence the free users to make the leap to paid.  Any thoughts on this?  Maybe you could do a blog post on it.  It seems like a good fit with your brand of analysis but I’m just starting to think it through…

A: I just finished an analysis that’s a good example of this problem.  Behavior during the Freemium period can predict who is highly likely to become a paying customer, who will need marketing efforts like additional sampling / package discounts, and who will not become a customer no matter what you do.

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Segmentation by LTD & LifeCycle

The following is from the July 2010 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

Q: One of the first things I am doing in my new job is to identify the Customer Lifecycle pattern – how many periods (month, year) will it be before a customer is likely buy again.  In enterprise software industry, where software cost easily 6 figures, # of years is a reasonable time frame.

A: Yes, one would assume this.  But these notions would most likely be based on a feeling of the “average” behavior, and on average, it probably does take a long time.

What is not known is this:  if the “average” is composed of short-cycle and long-cycle buyers, who are the short cycle buyers, and what are they like?  What industry SIC code, for example?  And can we get more of them, or at least focus more resources on them, if they are the most profitable?  So the challenge is not only to look for the “average”, but then understand how this average is composed.  If you can break down the average by industry, or by salesperson, for example, this might be highly directional information.

Q: From my internal analysis, however, I discerned from the sales figures something quite counterintuitive – the period between first and next sale is much shorter than I would have thought for the SW industry in general.

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LTV, RFM, LifeCycles – the Framework

The following is from the May 2010 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

Q: I visited your website because I am trying to understand how to develop a customer LifeTime Value model for the company that I work at.  The reason is we are looking at LTV as a way to standardize the ROI measurement of different customer programs.

Not all of these programs are Marketing, some are Service, and some could be considered “Operations”.  But they all touch the customer, so we were thinking changes in customer value might be a common way to measure and compare the success of these programs.

A: Absolutely!  I just answered a question very much like this the other day, it’s great that people are becoming interested in customer value as the cross-enterprise common denominator for understanding success in any customer program!

If I am the CEO, I control dollars I can invest.  How do I decide where budget is best invested if every silo uses different metrics to prove success?  And even worse, different metrics for success within the same silo?

By establishing changes in customer value as the platform for all customer-related programs to be measured against, everyone is on an equal footing and can “fight” fairly for their share of the budget (or testing?) pie.  By using controlled testing, customers can be exposed to different treatments and lift in value can be compared on an apples to apples basis – even if you are comparing the effect of a Marketing Campaign to changes in the Service Center.

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Control Groups in Small Populations

The following is from the January 2010 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

Q: Thank you for your recent article about Control Groups.  Our organization launched an online distance learning program this past August, and I’ve just completed some student behavior analysis for this past semester.

Using weekly RF-Scores based on Recently and Frequently they’ve logged in to courses within the previous three weeks, I’m able to assess their “Risk Level”– how likely they are to stop using the program.  We had a percentage who discontinued the program, but in retrospect, their login behavior and changes in their login behavior gave strong indication they were having trouble before they completely stopped using it.

A: Fantastic!  I have spoken with numerous online educators about this application of Recency – Frequency modeling, as well online research subscriptions, a similar behavioral model.  All reported great results predicting student / subscriber defection rates.

Q: I’m preparing to propose a program for the upcoming semester where we contact students by email and / or phone when their login behavior gives indication that they’re having trouble.  My hope is that by proactively contacting these students, we can resolve issues or provide assistance before things escalate to the point they defect completely.

A: Absolutely, the yield (% students / revenue retained) on a project like this should be excellent.  Plus, you will end up learning a lot about “why”, which will lead to better executions of the “potential dropout” program the more you test it.

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Choosing the Size of Control Groups

The following is from the December 2009 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

 Q:  I am a big fan of your web site and read your Drilling Down book. Great work!

A:  Thanks for the kind words!

Q:  I was wondering if you could help me picking the right control group size for a project of ours?  The population is 25 million telco customers that for which we want to do a long term impact analysis (month by month) in regards to revenue increase versus control group.  The marketing initiatives are mix of retention, lifecycle and tactical/seasonal activities.  We want to measure revenue increase through any of the marketing activities compared to control group.

A:   Great project, this is the kind of idea that can really improve margins if you can find out which specific tactics drop the most profit to the bottom line.

Q:   I have searched the web for some help and found calculators that say: On 25 million and smallest expected uplift of 0.1% and highest likely rate of > 5% the calculator gives 250k (1%).  Is that sufficient to calculate the net impact on the remaining base?  Would be very grateful if you could give me your thoughts.

A:  Well, it could be and might not be…

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Customer Value in the Freemium Model

The following is from the November 2009 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

Q: You kindly clarified a few issues when I was reading Drilling Down earlier this year – so I hope you don’t mind the direct email.

A: Yes, I remember!

I am working for www.XYZ.com, a social networking / virtual world site based abroad but visitors are 85% US.

Our growth up to now has been mainly viral and in the summer we hit 1.2M UVs operating on the Freemium model with only 5% of our registered users converting to paying customers and a significant portion of our revenue coming from ads.  On average our customers are active on the site for something like 4 months making their first purchase around day 28. 

But to take us to the next stage we are embarking on some marketing for the first time using AdWords and various revenue share campaigns, and of course to do this sensibly we need to arrive at a reasonable estimate of LTV.

A: Makes sense!

Q: To calculate an adjusted LTV I removed all customers with a lifetime of less than 4 months but this gives a low estimate as this calculation ignores the bumper summer months and the extra paid for features put in place earlier this year.  Calculating LTV using ARPU and monthly churn (not sure how to calculate this in our environment) gives another different estimate.  Is there any help or advice you could perhaps give us?  If not in the US then perhaps you could recommend somebody abroad – can’t find anything in the literature relevant for start-up like us.

A:  It sounds to me like you’re trying to make this too complicated, at least for the place you are at this time.  Monthly churn and the “28 day” threshold are nice to know on a tactical level, but LTV is more of a Strategic idea that does not necessarily benefit from analysis at that level.  And you may not really want LTV, but a derivative that might be more helpful.

Continue reading Customer Value in the Freemium Model

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